The random rantings and ravings of a self-identified geek ranging from controversial to commonplace to comedic
November 10, 2015

My Thoughts On Black Friday [“Bah, humbug!”]

I’ve been heartened to see a number of businesses pushing back against the Black Friday madness that, in recent years, has been encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday.

The irony of holding a celebration of thankfulness on one day and then, early the next morning, (or perhaps even later that night), an orgy of big-screen television snatching greed, couldn’t be more poignant. I’m sure that isn’t an original thought, but it’s worth saying.
I intend to boycott any Black Friday sale that would cause retail employees to have to curtail their family time on Thanksgiving day. In fact, now that the lines are drawn, and a number of business have taken a stand on this issue, I’m not sure I would be easy in my mind about going to one of the really early morning events either.
In short, I’m getting really sick of thanksgiving being marginalized and overlooked because it does not lend itself to becoming a materialistic debauch – the way Black Friday and the whole Christmas season are becoming. For the length of the holiday season we are bombarded with ads that say “buy this” and “buy that.” (All the while making subtle, but implied promises of quite immaterial happiness – have you noticed?) And now they can’t let us have just one day to be thankful for what God has given us?
No! That’s not up to them. They don’t run me. I won’t be stampeded like cattle. I like a good deal as much as the next guy, but if I had to fight somebody for a piece of electronics, I’d let him take it from me out of pure disgust. And I wouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself either – I’d be feeling sorry for him. That’s no way to live.
Then again, maybe that whole rant was just because I hate getting up early. 😛
August 23, 2015

No Trump Card

Everyone who has been following the ongoing Republican political primary has been surprised, by candidate Donald Trump’s continued dominance in the polls. No one that I have heard from predicted that he would be a serious contender – let alone at the top of the polls. In spite of Trump’s strident, recent statements he has held his lead to the wonderment of all. Indeed, the man seems completely bulletproof when it comes to saying things that might get him in trouble.

I believe the reason for Trump’s continued success stems from the fact that he channels the justified anger that so many Americans feel at the weak futility of our current leadership. We now have a Republican congress that seems disinclined to do anything to oppose a president who is bent on eroding our liberties and weakening our great nation. Trump’s strident and sometimes angry message resonates with Republican voters who are fed-up with the status quo. To his supporters, Trump seems like the answer – a bold, plain-spoken, outsider who will break us free of our current malaise. That he sometimes acts like a jerk does not deter them – quite the contrary, they see it as an expression of their own frustration at being effectively disenfranchised and unrepresented in a government that is increasingly out-of-touch with them. Honestly, I totally get that.

I believe that Trump supporters have correctly identified the problem, but I also believe that they have applied the wrong solution. Trump is, without doubt, a bold speaker – just as he is, without doubt, a very successful business man. He has boldly said some self-evidently true things that are so rarely said that it is quite refreshing to hear them. His lack of polish is endearing to a public that is sick and tired of being lied to by smooth-talking politicians. I too am sick of being lied to by politicians who say they’ll fight for what’s right and then don’t do it.

And that brings me to the subject of trust. Trust is so important for conservative voters who have gotten burned more times than we can count by candidates who talked a conservative talk, but haven’t walked that walk. For my money, the only reliable way to tell if a political candidate will do what he says he will do is to look at his record and see if that’s what he’s done in the past. And this is where I start to get some serious heartburn about Mr. Trump. First and foremost the man has said “I do” three times, and while the jury may still be out on the last time, the first two times he certainly did not do. If divorce alone doesn’t bother you, then consider that he cheated on wife number one with wife number two before he divorced the former and married the latter. Granted that is in the past, but Trump also maintains that he doesn’t feel the need to directly ask God’s forgiveness for anything that he has done. It may sound clichéd, but if the man can’t be trusted to keep his marriage vows, how can we trust him for anything else? Don’t expect to find a Reagan with the personal life of a Clinton. It doesn’t work that way

But we don’t need to look as far as Trump’s personal life to find things that ought to make us queasy. Over his career he has shown a penchant for using eminent domain to try to seize land for his development projects. In one instance the story set up very much like the plot from the Pixar movie “Up,” with Trump attempting to throw an aged woman named Vera Coking  out of her home. That doesn’t look very much like a strong regard for personal property rights. Now of course, the argument can be made that over time Trump has evolved to the political right  – as he has claimed recently. For all we know, maybe he has. But that’s the trouble, we don’t know, and while we may use many words to describe him, repentant probably isn’t one of them. Trump has flipped his views on virtually every major political issue since 2000, and while I sincerely hope that he is truly convinced of the merits of conservative principles, he has had no opportunity to prove what he really believes.

Finally, I believe there is a strong argument against Trump from expediency alone. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that with all the news that Trump is making and all the attention he is getting, nobody on the left or in the mainstream media, (but I repeat myself), has said anything about his personal life? You’d think that would be all over the place given Mr. Trump’s rise to prominence and sordid marital history. This should make us uneasy, because it looks very much like the media is holding off on trotting out Trump’s soap-opera personal life until after he cinches the Republican nomination. It wouldn’t be the first time the media has used such a tactic.

I agree that America needs strong, conservative leadership. I just don’t think that Trump is our man. We can do much better, and we need to. Yes, we’ve gotten burned by a lot of smooth-talking politicians, but they are not the only ones who are capable of deceiving. Moreover even with good intentions, it takes an incredible amount of moral courage to go to Washington D.C. and stand for conservative principles. Trump has a lot of bluster, and perhaps even a modicum of real courage, but based on what we’ve seen of his record, we ought to be concerned that he does not possess the kind of courage and commitment to doing right no matter what, that will be required to turn our country around. That’s why, in my opinion, he is no Republican Trump card.

July 4, 2015

The Name Of The Game: Why Gays Will Never Get What They Want

Much has been said about the Supreme Court’s recently passed legislation (choice of wording intentional) in regard to homosexual “marriage.” The Supreme Court’s decision is part of a series of ongoing actions by homosexuals and their allies. The legality of committing the specific actions that define homosexuality has been settled for a long time. No one has been trying to prevent homosexuals from doing what they want – be it living together, holding “marriage” ceremonies, or buying cakes and flowers.

And no, I don’t consider marriage licenses to be something the homosexuals really want. Let me explain: Most homosexual unions don’t even last as long as most heterosexual unions. The crowd lobbying for homosexual “marriage” is the same crowd that are doing everything they can to make marriage a dead letter. After all, what do they care about marriage? But even if we allow, for arguments sake, that homosexual “marriage” is the goal, does anyone really believe that there are not plenty of weddings chapels, florists, and bakers who would be willing to participate in such a ceremony? Why then do homosexuals seem to be actively seeking out Christian business owners? I suppose most gay activists would deny it, but deep down I think we all realize that this is not about marriage or any of the trappings that usually go with it. Both sides realize that this is about something bigger than cake, flowers, or a piece of paper saying that two parties are “married.”

All this raises the question: what is this struggle really about? The answer to that question should be clear by now. This is a battle for complete societal acceptance of homosexuality. Homosexuals have demonstrated that they will not be content as long as anyone is allowed to register their disapproval. They are more than happy to financially ruin anyone who would be unwilling to participate in a homosexual “marriage.” Right now that is all they can do to those who oppose them. However, the heartless, and yes, even vindictive way in which they view the destruction of Christian business owners’ means of livelihood leaves one to imagine what else they would do if they had the power. That anyone would refuse to lend their approval and acceptance is unacceptable, and in their eyes, worthy of any punishment. It was never about the goods and services involved – as this latest ruling indicates. The goal of this crusade is to force everyone to participate in legitimizing and approving the practice of committing homosexual acts.

All this is apparent enough, but I think it is time we asked why homosexuals are so desperate for public approval. There will always be disagreements on moral issues, and there will always be competing viewpoints, why then is it so important that dissent cease in regard to this one? I think the answer lies in the conscience that God has given to every man and woman. The boisterous homosexual clamor for approval is not the calm, self assured firmness of those who know that God and right are on their side. Christians, of all people, know what is is to stand for what is right even in the face of condemnation. They find strength and acceptance from God even if they do not receive it from men. By contrast, homosexuals feel they must find acceptance with men precisely because, in their hearts, they know that they cannot find it with God. (And nothing enrages them more than being reminded of God’s unambiguous view on the subject.) This is why homosexuals will never be content while anyone refuses to agree that what they are doing is right. They want our acceptance, celebration, and approval, and they will do whatever they can to hurt us as long as we refuse to give it to them.

Right now it seems like they are winning. And politically, perhaps they are. But to understand the aim of the homosexual agenda is to realize that they are no closer to achieving their goal of complete acceptance than they ever where. The goal is to force Christians to accept and give their blessing to homosexuality. That goal will never be reached. Christians – real Christians – will not yield. They can take our livelihood, throw us in prison, and yes, even kill us, but they will never receive that satisfaction from us. More importantly, they will never get it from God.

May 23, 2015

The Delightful Demise Of The Duggars

By now I am sure that the reader is painfully aware of the recent developments in regard to the Duggar family, of late reality show fame, so I won’t recap what is, or at least ought to be, a very unpleasant revelation about the family’s eldest son, Josh. (If you don’t know what I am referring to, you should be able to crawl out from under your rock, and hear a full accounting from the nearest passer-by.) I’ll just say that it was some really, really messed-up stuff that is difficult for me to hear, much less understand, and we’ll leave it at that.

To say that I was disheartened by what I heard would be an understatement. My heart sank in me when I first heard it, and I fervently hoped that it wasn’t true. Well, unfortunately, it is, and now we have to face that reality. The full ramifications of this public revelation are still playing out as I write, but whatever comes out of this story, it seems unlikely that things will ever quite be the same for the Dugger family, and their now cancelled TV show. Those tragic events that took place 12 years ago should be a source of sadness to every person of professed goodwill, and most especially to those calling themselves Christians.

Ohhh Myyyyyy. I'm horrified.

"Ohhh Myyyyyy. I’m horrified."

A naive observer might almost be surprised, then, to hear that for many they are not a source of sadness. Quite the contrary, in fact. The story has been greeted with glee and downright unseemly delight by many. To some, this tragic story is like a breath of fresh air. Reading through online comments you can hear the same repeating theme. In each case, the individual never stops with simply condemning the Duggars’ actions from twelve years ago, but continues on to say something else about how they don’t like this or that unrelated aspect of the Duggars’ conservative, Christian lifestyle. Now for the record, I’m not a big fan of so-called “reality” shows. Nor have I ever professed to believe that it was all that great of an idea for the Duggars to have a show in the first place. But if we’re being honest, most of the flak they’ve taken has not been related to that decision at all. The Duggar family has become a symbol of conservative, (dare I say even earnest?), Christianity. The kind of Christianity that actually stands for something and is distinctly different from the world it lives in. And for that they are hated. This wouldn’t be the first time the family has been involved in controversy, but it is the first time anyone has had anything really good to use against them. The homosexuals in particular despise the Duggars for their biblical stance, but they are far from the only ones. A month or so before this I remember reading an entire article about all the “shocking” things that the Duggars believed. (By which I understood the author to mean that he fervently wished they were shocking.) Mostly what was listed was basic Bible 101. Oh yes, some people have been waiting for this a very long time.

And what of the Christians? I can understand why the other side might greet this event with joy. After all, they are no doubt convicted and offended by the family’s clean living and lack of dysfunction – so rampant in today’s culture. Yes, I can see why non-Christians might be glad to hear of such a serious shortcoming. But I wonder what the presence of a similar attitude says about Christians who rush to condemn the Duggar family for the way they handled this sin? Christians might reasonably be expected to understand something about the transformative, atoning power of the blood of Jesus Chirst. They might also be expected to understand that when a sin has been humbly confessed and forsaken, especially for a long period of time, it means something. That is, if they understand anything about the aforementioned process. However loudly they profess to be disgusted by these actions, one wonders how sad Christians really are about it if they choose to use it as an opportunity to pile-on to a family of earnest, fellow Christians who have taken a public stand for a careful, Biblical brand of Christianity. So I have to ask, what is the real issue? Are the high standards and careful living a conviction to some Christians?

However loudly they profess to be disgusted by these actions, one wonders how sad Christians really are about it if they choose to use it as an opportunity to pile-on to a family of earnest, fellow Christians who have taken a public stand for a careful, Biblical brand of Christianity

None of this is to in any way excuse Josh Duggar’s actions from twelve years ago. Indeed, Josh himself makes no attempt to do so and, I was comforted to note, avoided the use of the word, “mistake” when describing his wrongdoing. (That word get’s used way, way too often by politicians caught up in sex scandals.) The sin was confessed, dealt with, and forsaken some time ago. In so far as we have any reason to believe, there has been no recurrence. What then is the ongoing issue that requires our righteous indignation? The way the parents handled that horrifying development? So say some, but would you have your 14 year old child branded as a sex offender? Would you turn him over? Really? Maybe you would have. Maybe they should have. Do you know for sure? I’ve heard it said that we should place ourselves in the position of the victims. Fair enough – sounds like a good idea. Perhaps we should also place ourselves in the position of the parents and pray to God we never have to make that call. In any case, Mr. and Mrs. Duggar where unwilling to allow that situation to continue. In fact they did not allow it to continue as evidenced by the fact that they took immediate steps to remove any physical possibility of a recurrence, (after internal measures failed), until they were satisfied that sufficient spiritual progress had been made. You may fault their methods, but in the end they did get results. I wonder if the correctional system could have done as well.

I’ve heard it said that we should place ourselves in the position of the victims. Fair enough – sounds like a good idea. Perhaps we should also place ourselves in the position of the parents and pray to God we never have to make that call.

So what should be our response to this information? Sadness? Certainly. We should feel the same deep pain and regret that we would feel if we ourselves had done something equally monstrous and had now come to repentance. (Though understandably to a lesser degree.) But what about indignation and a desire to punish and condemn? I could certainly understand a feeling of righteous indignation at an ongoing sin, but what about one that is acknowledged, repented of and forsaken? (For an ample proving time – say, twelve years.) There would be no purpose to any righteous indignation in that case. It would not, in fact, be righteous. How much less righteous would be any feelings of joy or relief at finding out that Josh Duggar had once messed up really bad? We should not respond with the same gleeful delight that many have. Rather we should resolve to be more careful, more circumspect, and more courageous in telling the truth. Not because we are perfect and deserving vessels, but because doing anything else would be a waste of the breath that God gave us.

“but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”

April 18, 2015

The Myth of Electability

In my experience a lack of “electability ” is used almost exclusively to denigrate conservative political candidates whom the speaker would otherwise lend his support to. Personally, I think it is time we stopped worrying about that concept – at least as it is commonly used.

In my state senate district (Texas SD 10) we used to be represented by a radical, left-wing, virulently pro-abortion woman, Wendy Davis. You see, while the part of SD 10 that I live in is solidly Republican, the district includes precincts that lean the other way. This makes SD 10 the only swing senate district in the state of Texas. Wendy got that seat by defeating an establishment and all-round only-as-conservative-as-he-should-be Republican candidate. She kept it by defeating another Republican contender of the same stripe. It wasn’t until a Tea Party Conservative named Konni Burton got into the fight that SD 10 as once again wrested from the Democrat Party. Now you’d think that in a district that elected a liberal like Wendy Davis, a more moderate candidate would have a better chance than a Conservative like Konni, but the fact of the matter is, she did what two moderate conservatives could not do, and she did it in a swing district where she shouldn’t have had as much “electability” as they did.

Contrast this with what has happened on the national stage in the last two presidential elections. Establishment, moderate, Republicans, after dropping staggering amounts of money to beat out more conservative candidates in the primary, have gone down to defeat twice.

To be clear, we ought to be concerned that the individual we choose to champion our beliefs in government be sane and as well-spoken as possible. But it does not matter how articulate, telegenic, and charming that individual is if he does not represent our fundamental beliefs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the gift of communication. Ronald Reagan was the greatest president in modern history and was both eloquent and personally charming. But it was not this alone that made him special – it was the fact that these traits were found together in a man of genuine conviction and principle. He demonstrated that he was willing to take immense criticism for standing on those principles. While we look back on him fondly, we must not forget that a lot of people despised him for that. He was nothing if not a polarizing character.

As conservatives we had better understand this: No matter who the candidate is, if he has a track record of fighting for good causes – of actually doing conservative things as opposed to just saying them, he will be painted as a radical by the media and they will attempt to marginalize him with that label. Only death and taxes are more certain than that. We shouldn’t listen to that any more than we would listen to the same people if they told us to jump off a cliff. Remember, they’re not on our side. They don’t want us to win. (The same goes for most of the “political pundits” – i.e. Carl Rove and company.)

So rather than worrying too much about electability, let’s focus on finding candidates who courageously champion our beliefs because they share our core values. You can tell the really good ones because they will have made enemies. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can stand for something good without being hated. You cannot champion conservatism, and especially social conservatism, without being hated. (The people who oppose us are very good at hate.) By all means, let’s find candidates as articulate and as smooth-talking as they can be, but above all, make sure they have a track record not just of talking but of doing. That is the right thing to do and that’s how we can win.

February 17, 2015

The Tempting – Not the looking

Recently there has been a lot of discussion revolving around the subject of modesty. It seems to have been touched off by one woman’s blog post about her decision to limit when and how she wears Yoga pants. That post set off a firestorm of criticism and has led to a vigorous exchange on the subject with a lot of arguments flying both ways. The scope of the discussion has broadened beyond any particular article of clothing to the whole concept of, and rationale behind what we call modesty. Illustrative of this is the fact that those who criticized the post did so using arguments denigrating the entire concept of modesty as opposed to simply arguing that disallowing Yoga Pants was going too far. Matt Walsh made this very point in his post on the subject, and in much greater detail. I observe it here in order that the reader may understand that the debate is not a “what is modesty?” discussion, but a “should we be modest at all?” discussion.

With that understood, I want to address one particular argument that I often hear from those arguing against modesty. It runs something like this: “It’s the man’s fault for looking. A woman is not guilty for a man having looked at and lusted because she wasn’t the one who did it.” It is usually offered in response to the objection made by those in favor of modesty that dressing a particular way would illicit wrong thoughts in others.

This argument is 100% correct.

The woman is not guilty for what any man does as a result of seeing her. Ever. At all.

She is, however, responsible for her own actions. She is guilty or not guilty based on what she, of her own free will, does or doesn’t do. In the same way, the man is also guilty based on what he does of his own free will. (And rest assured, there is no way that a woman can dress which can deprive a man of his free will.) That means that if she dresses immodestly and presents a “stumbling block” to those around her she is guilty for having placed the stumbling block whether or not anyone actually stumbles over it. In other words, if a woman dresses immodestly and not one man takes a single glance at her she is just as guilty as if 100 men had lusted after her. She bears no guilt for the looking, but she may or may not bear guilt for the tempting. This is called personal responsibility.

Let me make an illustration. Let’s say my boss provokes me by belittling me and calling me names. Let’s say further that he is rude and unkind to me often. Would he be wrong to do that? Sure he would. Does that make it right for me to curse at him and punch his lights out? Absolutely not. If we were both to do those things, then we would both be guilty, but only for the things that each of us had actually done. He would not share my guilt nor I his. (And rightfully, I would probably be the one going to jail if I punched my boss’s light’s out since that is a worse thing than what he would have done.)

Let me reiterate, I and those like me are not now, nor have we ever argued that women are to blame if men think wrong thoughts about them. Women are responsible for the tempting – not the looking. In fact if you only take one thing away from this post then let me break that down into a mantra: “The tempting – not the looking.” 

There is another rather nasty variant of that argument that accuses proponents of modesty of contributing to “rape culture” by saying that women should dress modestly. (I’ve already covered what I think about that term in a previous post.) I address this argument last because I feel that it does not deserve the respect I gave to the previous one. Besides being slanderous and unjust this argument fails to recognize that when it comes to rape the question of modesty is more one of practicality than morality. Dressing immodestly may or may not lead to sexual assault, but that is a safety consideration and not a moral one. The moral outlook is not effected by any tendency towards being victimized because, as stated above, the woman is in no way responsible for what any man does. But when anyone raises the safety question the anti modesty crowd immediately pounces on them with hideous accusations of thinking that an immodestly dressed woman deserved to be raped. That is slanderous, dishonest, and unhelpful to the discussion.

I don’t think either form of the argument will be going away any time soon. I think most people who make it are simply being deliberately obtuse about what proponents of modesty are saying. This is not uncommon as it is often much easier to combat a caricature of your opponent’s argument rather than the real thing. At the very least, anyone who just read this post ought to know better than to accuse us of blaming the woman for the looking.

February 9, 2015

The Bible On Controlling Husbands

I have a confession to make. I like reading those articles for women about what good husband material looks like. You know, the ones that often take the form of a list? There are a lot of them out there and while I don’t exactly go looking for them, I can never resist the temptation to get inside the mind of the fair sex. I rationalize this to myself by saying that it’s a sort of “know your enemy” exercise and that I am bettering myself by learning. (Just kidding about the “enemy” bit!) The truth is that curiosity may play a bigger part in my perusal of these articles than any other motive.

The articles usually lead in by naming a list of admirable traits that are personal aspirations of any good man. For the most part these are items that I think we should all be able to agree on. Often, at some point, and usually near that end of the article there is an item that goes something like “he isn’t controlling,” or words to that effect. The reader is then straightly warned against the dangers of getting involved with a man who is “controlling.” Of course I am not so naive as to be surprised by this trend. It is the norm in the day and age in which we live – par for the course in modern secular thinking. What is surprising is that I find and hear of this concept and wording in Christian circles.

I think it’s time we asked what this kind of statement means. In the case of the secular articles mentioned above I don’t think the question is difficult to answer. By using the word in this way in the authors are signaling their rejection of the idea of male headship in marriage. I’d venture to guess that most if not all of the secular authors I’ve read would describe any husband who exercised or claimed Biblical authority as “controlling.” Any suggestion that the husband is the head of the wife would most likely be met with scorn.

But is this really what we profess to believe? I hardly think so – at least, it shouldn’t be. Now I’m not going to make a straw man argument by accusing everyone who disagrees with me of believing exactly as the “heathens” do. The point I’m trying to make is that when Christians use this term they are borrowing it from another world view. Does that sound a little wild-eyed and far-fetched? It may seem so, but where is the Biblical support for the idea that a husband should guard against the danger of being “controlling?” I can find no concept or admonition that would suggest such a danger. On the contrary, we find that the Bible likens the husband’s authority in the marriage to that of Christ’s relative to the Church and commands wives to be subject in the same way. Let’s look at that verse.

“Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:24

Now of course “Controlling” is a pejorative term, that is to say that it has an unfavorable connotation. But surely is has this connotation because it carries the implicit statement that the person to whom the term applies is overstepping his or her authority or claiming authority which they do not posses. In light of this verse, how can this be so in the case of the husband towards the wife? The extent of the authority is that of Christ’s authority over the Church and the scope is explicitly “in all things.” Now of course, we always have to obey God rather than man, which puts definite limits on the husband’s authority. But apart from this caveat I can find no room for the accusation that a husband is ever too controlling. I am wholly unable to reconcile the concept with scripture.

I will make one last point for those who may feel that I have barked up the wrong tree with my previous observations and that all Christians mean when they use it is that the husband should not be too overbearing in his authority – that he should be kind, gentle, and loving in its exercise. Now this is all quite true, but if that is all they mean then why not say it outright in so many words? The inherent ambiguity in this usage makes it all the more insidious. It smacks of double talk to me.

Christians must not simply accept societal norms and values. We have to evaluate every incoming idea and concept in the light of scripture, and be willing to throw it out root and branch if it does not square with the Bible. When we adopt ideas and terminology that originate outside our worldview it makes it that much easier to fall into wrong ways of thinking. For this reason I feel that is is high time that the term “controlling,” as applied to husbands, be dropped from the Christian vernacular.

February 9, 2015

The Bible On Spanking: A Response

Recently an article on the subject of spanking came to my attention via social media.

After the first time through the central argument of it I had to stop, go back and re-read from near the beginning to find what I had missed. The article jumped from enumerating the possible meaning a few Hebrew words to the re-writing of holy scripture. The most glaring item was how the word “rod” got redacted from all of the verses mentioned. Here’s the only excerpt that I could find in justification for substituting the word “rod” for the word “wisdom.”

“The word shebet is translated ‘rod’ and means, literally, ‘shepherd’s crook’ and, in Hebrew culture, was a means not only of guiding and protecting sheep, but also a symbol of leadership. The markings on the head of the shebet often identified the head of a family or tribe, letting everyone know who to go to for guidance and protection. The shebet, then, denotes wisdom, leadership, and protection.”

Wait… That’s it?

That’s why rod doesn’t mean rod?

In summary: Because some rods had associations culturally attached to them that were separate from the physical object, i.e. the rod itself, therefore any textual references to the physical object can be safely replaced with (some of) those cultural associations. This raises the question: What would the author have said if he had wanted to denote an actual stick in the literal sense of the word? I’m at a loss to answer that. A trial lawyer might be proud, but I tell you truthfully that I would be ashamed to put such an argument forward.

When you leave aside the silly assertion that smiting/beating must mean triggering the conscience, (which assumes that the Jews had the same metaphor about one’s conscience being smitten), the argument becomes even more absurd. Let’s try Proverbs 23:13 – 14.

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell”

Which becomes:

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod [wisdom], he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod [wisdom], and shalt deliver his soul from hell”

Here the context is much harder to sidestep, and so the substitution treatment applied above catapults us into the realm of the ridiculous.

In many ways removing the word “rod” from the verses named is the linchpin of the argument made in the article above. When we put a physical rod into those verses the context narrows the possible meanings of the other Hebrew words mentioned. When you have a word with a list of possible meanings you use context to determine which one to go with. This is not an esoteric concept.  We make such contextual inferences about English words on a daily basis. Notice also that the substitution of the word “rod” makes no attempt to find an alternate meaning in a Hebrew word definition. And while the author claims to have used literal substitution to derive the doctored version of the verses in question, she does not, by any stretch of the imagination do so for this word. Instead the author simply leaps over it with some vagaries about an unrelated use of the rod, and settles on one particular and highly symbolic concept as the meaning of the word. This is by far the biggest logical leap, but not the only one. However, most everything else the author asserts collapses with the re-assumption of the plain sense of the word.

So much for not spanking then. But what about the author’s definition of the Hebrew word “na`ar?” Does it really only mean a young man? That puzzled me until I looked it up in a few online sources. (See below) I discovered that the meaning of the word is not nearly so restrictive as the author asserts, but can in fact be applied even to infants. I’m not sure where the author obtained the definition being used, but this error does not aid the credibility of the article. It should also be noted that the idea of instructing a baby with wisdom is patently absurd. (And hence the author’s necessity of limiting the definition of “na`ar.”)

Links: Na`ar #1, Na`ar #2, Na`ar#3, and Na`ar#4

Finally the author suggests that the entire old testament should be thrown out root and branch because Christians are now under the new covenant. One wonders why the author took such pains to strip the previous verses of their meaning if that meaning did not apply in the first place. Regardless, the argument used is not valid because it does not separate old testament law, which was dictated to and for the nation of Israel, from other God-breathed writings which were given with no such limitation in scope.

The rest of the article is what I would call “touchy-feely” stuff about love and gentleness. (Which in themselves are wonderful, necessary things.) Since this post is mainly about what the Bible actually says, as opposed to how I feel about it, and in light of the scriptural bankruptcy of the arguments made in the linked article, I will not address these points in detail or at length. I will, however, observe that they are indicative of the acceptance of a lie that Satan happens to be pedaling at this time in history. That lie is that it is possible to separate God’s love and mercy from his justice. But the very concept of mercy has no meaning in the absence of justice. Love then, in the Biblical sense of the word, does not always mean doing what is most pleasant for either party in the relationship. Rather, it means doing what is best for the object of one’s love. That isn’t easy. Maybe it is why some people feel the need to try and explain away the scriptures relevant to this truth. I fear they will do so to their own sorrow because any failure to accept that reality is as God says that it is, always leads to pain down the road.

The Bible speaks quite clearly on the reality and nature of the heart condition that we are all born into. Children are no exception. It isn’t pretty, but it’s a lot worse if we choose to act as if it weren’t true. These verses tell us the truth. The question is, will we accept it?

November 3, 2014

Define “Win,” Please: A Practical Case for Principle Over Pragmatism

Moral principles are sneered at by many politicians and capital cities are notorious for corrupting politicians who where first elected  to stand for something more than their own continuance in office. For those who succumb to this temptation there is a subtle shift in priorities. To these individuals, winning is no longer a means to end but an end unto itself. For the sake of securing re-election they are willing to compromise their core principles. Perhaps like the corrupt Senator Paine in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” they rationalize that by selling out in one area they will place themselves in a position to do good in some other way.

It is easy for those who care deeply about the state of our nation to fall into the same pattern of thinking. There is nothing wrong with trying to win. In the political realm you can’t get anything done without it. But it must not become the all-consuming idol in the name of which any compromise can be made so long as it is premised upon the prospect of some future good that can be done right after we win the next election. The trouble is there will always be another election. For conservatives to hold back from championing our principles for fear of losing in the next election is to render our victories in the last election null and void. And, while there will always be a certain degree of give and take in the political realm, we might as well pack up and go home if, in order to win, we abandon the principles that we set out to fight for in the first place.

So what does it really mean to “win?” and are we really winning if we lose our reason for competing? We are sometimes tempted to think that our principles are a ball and chain to us – a straitjacket that puts us at a disadvantage. In reality they are all we have and we cannot truly lose so long as we stick to them. Nor can we truly win if, in order to do so, we abandon them. That’s why whenever I hear someone say that we need to soften our stance on our moral beliefs in order to win an election the first thing that pops into my head is “Define ‘Win’, Please.”

August 31, 2014

Do not according to their deeds: It doesn’t matter who said it

Lately I’ve been dismayed to hear the scripture quote “by their deeds you shall know them” tossed around as if it were proof positive that everything ever taught by Doug Phillips or Bill Gothard must be wrong. (Or at least the parts that the speaker doesn’t agree with.) This admonition, while useful as a guide to evaluating the spiritual condition of one individual, tells us nothing about what Christian doctrine ought to be. That’s what we have the rest of the Bible for. We should make use of it.

 Both men’s teachings have come under fire and while I certainly don’t agree with everything they taught, I find it ironic that if they had been following their own teachings in their personal lives they would have been okay. Gothard’s proximity, touching, and talking rules for guys and gals, and Phillip’s teaching about unmarried daughters staying at home, if followed, would have made it impossible for either of them to do what they did. I guess it wasn’t really the teachings that were the problem – it was getting the idea that those rules didn’t apply to them.

 So what are we supposed to do about teachings that we hear from deeply flawed people? Here’s what Jesus said:

 “Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” Matthew 23:1-3 (emphasis my own)

 Sound familiar? Some things don’t change. But I want you to notice something: Jesus didn’t say to not do the things that the scribes and Pharisees taught. Why? Because they were in the seat of Moses. That is to say, they were teaching from the law of Moses. The truth they taught didn’t come from them. It wasn’t their doctrine. It didn’t come from them.

 Is everything that these two men ever taught scriptural? I know of things that I believe are definitely not. Besides, it is unlikely that one man would get every single thing right. But that should be our guide. We should evaluate teachings based on what the Bible says and not based on who taught them.

 I’ll conclude with my favorite line from an old black and white Marten Luther film that we have:

 “It doesn’t matter who said it. It is still the truth!”

About Me

Author Photo I am a Christian IT professional (a.k.a. Geek) who likes to read, write, and muse about morality and worldview as they apply to public policy. In person I have an active and somewhat sardonic sense of humor. In print I repress this trait and try to avoid saying anything that could give offense when not offered with a broad grin (which the reader can’t see). I strive to be genuine in my dealings with everyone and to be frank, straightforward, and kind to friend and foe alike. I believe that the defense of truth is too important to be tainted with anger and malice or crippled by the fear of disapproval. For me, this is what it means to be "speaking the truth in love."